Jaguar develops a shape-shifting car seat that simulates walking

Why it matters: It’s no secret that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, largely occupied by hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen and commuting through traffic jams for work, pose several risks to our physical and mental health. The World Health Organization estimates over 1.4 billion adults are at risk from a lack of physical activity, which can lead to diseases like dementia and type 2 diabetes, obesity, weak pelvic and back muscles, as well as heart problems. To address this issue, British automaker, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is exploring the idea of using shape-shifting car seats that move your body muscles to simulate walking.

Cars have had massaging seats for a while now, but researchers at Jaguar Land Rover have come up with a new prototype seat technology that “makes you think you’re walking.”

JLR calls it the ‘morphable’ seat, currently being experimented in the company’s Body Interiors and Research division. It uses a series of micro-adjustable actuators placed in the seat foam to activate the pelvic area, making occupants feel like they’re walking, even though they might actually be stuck in a traffic jam or munching miles on the motorway.

These pelvic oscillations, says Jaguar, can also be tailored to suit individual passenger and driver needs. “The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects,” said JLR’s chief medical officer, Dr. Steve Iley, adding that the company is using its engineering expertise to develop innovative technologies, like the morphable seat, for tackling an issue that affects people “across the globe.”

It remains to be seen if a shape-shifting car seat could interfere with the brake, clutch or accelerator pedal since the leg movement seems to be more pronounced. However, future advancements in autonomous driving technology may get rid of the argument altogether by negating the need for any pedals in the footwell.

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Given that the morphable seat is still in its research phase, those concerned with improving their posture behind the wheel right now can take a look at the company’s video guide above to help them find the “perfect driving position.”